Monday, June 27, 2005

[Blog Entry] Counting Sheep, “Barya”

Counting Sheep

I don’t think you can make up for any sleep deprivation, but my body did try. Last week I virtually had four or five hours of naptime each day. Woke up today having nine hours of sleep, when my regular is six or seven. And it feels as if it’s not enough. But duty calls.


The closest approximation for the Filipino word “barya” is probably loose change. Taken in itself, barya refers to coins (whether it’s anything less than P1.00, P5.00, or P10.00). But another context it’s used is when you have big bills, and the other person wants you to pay in smaller increments or the exact amount.

After a book splurge (or rather, other people asked me to buy some books for them), only one guy paid for me the book he had me purchase. Suffice to say, I have huge bills (although it’s not enough for me to make my monthly deposit… which makes me wonder: which is worse, to be in debt, or to have other people owe you money but aren’t able to pay you) but the total amount is still not enough for me to pay my monthly bills so I’m wary of spending it.

By now, I would have given in to my smaller indulgences (such as having a haircut!) but I can’t because I don’t have barya.

Barya doesn’t have to be a huge amount. It can be having a P20 bill when all you need to buy is that one cigarette stick or menthol candy. Or perhaps your jeepney fare from Katipunan to Cubao. Or carrying P100 when all you want to purchase is today’s newspaper. It’s a real hassle when you don’t have smaller bills, or loose change. You know you have the ability to purchase what you want, but you can’t because you might be paying more for the service if the other person can’t give you change. Or in the case of jeepney drivers, give you a scolding or not allow you to ride at all.

Which is why I’m not afraid of coins. Some people I know don’t like carrying coins. Yes, it is indeed heavy. But in a certain sense, you have more power over the people who don’t have coins. When I was working in a call center, one of the most valued objects in the office was the vending machine. Unfortunately, it’s bill-reader was being updated, so there was no guarantee that your bills would be accepted by the machine. It was a mad scramble for loose change, for he who has the coins doesn’t have to go all the way to the ground floor to buy from the convenience store.

And honestly, when you carry a bag as big as mine, what’s a few more coins?


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